For weeks the Salafists had been carrying out attacks across Libya. The response of the Libyan Interior Minister had been that Libyan forces were not equipped to stop them. So when the US Consulate in Benghazi came under attack, Obama and Co. made the decision to reach out to a Libyan government which had already stated that it had no ability to intervene.
The hour is 5 p.m., Sept. 11, Washington time, and the scene is an Oval Office meeting among President Obama, the secretary of defense, the national security adviser and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi has been under assault for roughly 90 minutes. Some 30 U.S. citizens are at mortal risk. The whereabouts of Ambassador Stevens are unknown.
“There was no serious consideration at that hour of intervention with military force, officials said. Doing so without Libya’s permission could represent a violation of sovereignty and inflame the situation, they said. Instead, the State Department reached out to the Libyan government to get reinforcements to the scene.”
The attack on the Consulate was already a clear violation of US sovereignty and the entire invasion of Libya had been a violation of Libyan sovereignty. At this late date, after NATO had spent months bombing Libya, concern about the violation of its sovereignty was downright surreal.
But that’s not the real point. The real point is that the State Department was either unaware that the Libyan authorities had no ability to intervene, which means that top brass didn’t know what most people reading this site knew. Or they knew and were covering their asses.
That’s the troubling question here.
The Consulate had asked for help repeatedly. Benghazi had no real security except for that being provided by Islamist militias. Where exactly did the State Department expect help to come from? Contact was made with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Feb 17 militia which was supposed to provide protection. But that was an admission that Libyan authorities could not provide security. If they could have, why turn to Feb 17?
Pushing aside all the things that Obama and Co. should have known, the period of the attack is the time when urgent requests for information should have been sent and a clear picture of the situation should have been assembled. Instead the State Department sent a surreal request to a central government not in control of Benghazi.
The question at the heart of Benghazigate is how much of this was incompetence and how much of it was appeasement. Either way the coverup has to be exposed.